​Police Hunting Sadistic Bastards Who Tied Neck-High String Across Road

Illustration for article titled ​Police Hunting Sadistic Bastards Who Tied Neck-High String Across Road

Police in the UK town of Totton are investigating what's being described as a "thick piece of string" tied between two lampposts at neck-height, aiming to take out a motorcyclist or bike rider.

The string was found late at night by a passerby who called the authorities. No one was injured, but local police are asking anyone with information to come forward.

While this is the kind of thing that sounds straight of a Quentin Tarantino movie, riders being maimed or killed by nearly invisible ropes isn't uncommon. There have been about a dozen cases over the last 10 years of cable, string, or fishing line strung across roads. Sometimes they're found before they can do damage. Sometimes not.


One of the most recent cases involved Greg Burkett, who required 23 stitches across his neck when he hit a wire tied across a suburban road in Australia. And in 2007, a motocross rider was beheaded in front of his friends when a wire was strung across an off road course.


"Depending on the tension of the string and the speed at which they were traveling, they could have suffered a very serious injury – a broken neck at least," said Mog Morrison, the head of the New Forest Motorcycle Action Group in the UK regarding the incident. "This sort of thing has killed people in the past."

Image: The intersection, via Google Streetview

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I show up at my doctor's office in my riding gear on and helmet in hand. He asks me if I know the risks I'm taking. Knowing what is coming, I ask him a simple question -

If I had instead shown up in my Lycra bicycle clothes and a bicycle helmet, would you have issued this warning?

His response was "no, riding a bicycle is healthy and a lot safer."

Really? A bicycle rider wears virtually no body protection, travels at a significantly different and vastly variable speed when compared to the motor vehicle traffic around it. According to traffic studies, it is not speed, but the variance in speeds that result in the most crashes.

He replied: But motorcycle fatalities are much higher than bicycles.

Only if you look at the raw numbers and take nothing else into account. If you eliminate the motorcycle fatalities that are either under the influence of alcohol or have clear evidence the motorcycle was traveling in excess of 10mph above the posted speed limit (these combined cover nearly two thirds of all motorcycle fatalities), you will find that the fatality rate of bicycles is actually higher.

The fact is, motorcycles and bicycles offer little inherent protection to the operator. An operator that makes sound decisions tends to avoid collisions. The same is true of all vehicle operators. I think you will find that if you look at people who show a history of sound decisions, they will be safe regardless of the mode of travel. If, instead, the person in question makes poor decisions in their life, they might have a higher risk of collisions, and on a motorcycle, that may result in a fatal result. I seriously think the operator must be included in the statistics to be valid. After all, why would insurance rates depend so heavily on driving record if it did not impact the odds of loss for the insurance company?

To this day, my doctor has not once commented on my personal life beyond medical needs.

Seriously, it doesn't matter if the subject is guns, motorcycles, food, etc. People who have a history of making good decisions are not likely to run afoul of the hazards. People who don't tend to make good decisions may face greater risks. Sure, there are hazards that impact people regardless of their own choices, but those random events are far less likely to impact you personally than the choices you make yourself.